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Reviews | Exposition of Daniel

Exposition of Daniel

John Thomas

Hardback or e-book (ePub)

128 pages

Exposition of Daniel

The Testimony review (from October 1979)

A Brief Exposition of the Prophecy of Daniel

IN COMMON with most of Dr. Thomas’s writings this is not a book for cursory reading. His statements and conclusions have to be carefully studied and compared with the ever-changing political scene. It would be foolish to discard them however just because at any particular moment they do not appear to fit in with the international alignments. One is impressed, on rereading this book after many years, by his wide grasp of Scripture and the absolute certainty of his general interpretation, while conceding the element of personal opinion on a number of points.

It is easy to realise that in the course of nearly 100 years names of nations and institutions have changed while the basic concepts remain the same. Czars may be replaced by the Politburo and Secretariat, and Kings by Dictators, and an Ottoman Empire reduced to Asia Minor, but the principles of rulership, aggression, and nationalism remain as strong as ever. In most cases the rule is that of ruthless totalitarianism. There are of course modem developments which help us to grasp the fuller significance of Bible prophecy. For example, today the major powers exert their influence through territories and peoples who were “in the news” in the times of the Old Testament prophets. Again, we have the whole political set-up changing almost at times overnight. At one moment Egypt, for example, is dependent on Russian military assistance and technology, and the next thing we hear is that the Russians have been expelled and Egypt expects aid from the Western bloc. These sudden swings are particularly noticeable among the peoples of less-advanced countries in Asia and Africa. We are always conscious that the purpose of prophecy is to confirm our faith in God’s Word and to encourage us to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Its purpose is not to make us minor prophets.

Dr. Thomas is most emphatic in his identification of the King of the North with Russia. Indeed he has two chapters devoted to this topic. One is titled “The King of the North”, and the other “Proof of the Russian Power being the King of the North”, the proof being taken of course from the Prophecy of Ezekiel. He writes: “The proof lies in the obvious identity that exists between Daniel’s ‘King of the North’ of the time of the end, and Ezekiel’s ‘Gog’ of the latter days. By comparing what is said about each … in the two prophets, it will be manifest that they can only be different titles for the same power.” Later, when commenting on Nebuchadnezzar’s image, he says: “There are but two Legs, therefore there can be only two imperial divisions of the dominion in its latter day, or time of the end manifestation. From mature consideration I am satisfied that Austria and Russia will be the imperial supporters of the united majesty of the Image.” Looking at Europe today we see, not perhaps quite as Dr. Thomas envisaged, the twofold division – Russia with the East German bloc, and the West German and West European bloc or the European Economic Community. Dr. Thomas writes: “Several tens have been guessed at but the lists bear inaccuracy on the face of them … The Gothic kingdoms of the period indicated were the roots of the present kingdoms, which are designated in prophecy by the number of Romano-Gothic kingdoms extant at the beginning and when the end comes. There will then be ten; therefore without regard to their numerical variation, in previous ages, they are styled the ten kingdoms of the beast.”

Again in his identification of Gog he says: “And thus the three denominations Rosh, Meshekh, and Thuval, united in the prophecy, point out, with equal capacity and conciseness, those widely extended regions which at the present day (1868), we denominate collectively The Russian Empire”. For us in 1979 this is now the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The present weakness of Turkey, which has recently come under review because it forms such an important part of the defence system of the West, is brought to our notice when Doctor Thomas says: “But, though the Little Horn of the Goat, or Constantinopolitan power, has never been Lord of the European Continental Powers represented by the Eleven Horns, the time is at hand when it, as Gog, will acquire the dominion. The feeble Ottoman must be ejected from the throne to make room for a more powerful and vigorous dynasty.” It only takes a little change in the wording to make his remarks fit the present situation.

Another matter of great significance is his assessment of the spiritual apathy of natural Israel: “When Michael … stands up for the overthrow of Israel’s enemies, he finds them and Israel shut up in unbelief – the Gentiles without faith in the kingdom; and the Jews without faith in its king; both conditions being equally fatal to a participation with Christ in glory, honour, incorruptibility and life, which are the special attributes of the princes of regenerated Israel. He will also find a multitude of Jews in the Holy Land as faithless in Jesus as the generation that crucified him; for it is to make a spoil of these that Gog invades the land. The calamities of war however greatly reduce their numbers. Whatever the whole number may be it is diminished by two thirds. ‘In all the land, saith Yahweh, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call upon My name and I will hear them; I will say, It is My people; and they shall say, Yahweh is my Elohim’” (Zechariah 13:8,9).

The last chapter that deals with “The Times of the Kingdom of Babylon and of Judah” naturally brings its difficulties. Taking the calculation that the resurrection would be soon after 1868 we are faced with the problem of starting dates and a natural desire to see the final stages in the Divine Programme. In this connection we should like to refer our readers to the review of Robert Fleming’s The Rise and Fall of Rome Papal in The Testimony for May 1971 and to quote a few lines from his book. He refers to the first rise of the papal head in the year 606 and that Phocas did, in a manner, devolve the government of the West upon him by giving him the title of universal bishop. Adding 1260 years bringing us to 1866 which he corrects to 1848 according to “prophetical calculations”. He continues, “Now, as near as I can trace the time of this donation of Pepin it was in or about the year 758, about the time that Pope Paul the First began to build the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. Now if we make this the era of the ending of the papal kingdom, the 1260 years will not run out before the year 2018, according to the computation of Julian years; but reducing these to prophetical ones the expiration of the papal kingdom ends exactly in the year 2000 according to our vulgar reckoning.” The remarkable nature of these calculations is that they were penned in 1701. A teasing problem for all of us, yet in the end we can be sure that “the vision is yet for an appointed time … at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Habakkuk 2:3).

H. J. SALTER

(Originally published in the October 1979 edition of The Testimony Magazine (pages 333-334), and is reproduced by kind permission.)

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